Today’s Headlines and Commentary

Victoria Gallegos, Tia Sewell
Monday, March 29, 2021, 1:30 PM

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Lawyers delivered opening arguments in the murder trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin for the death of George Floyd today, reports the New York Times. In the first hour of the trial, prosecutors played the bystander video showing Chauvin holding his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, even after he had lost consciousness. The video is expected to be a major part of the prosecution’s strategy, while the defense is likely to try to argue that Floyd’s death was the result of drug use and an underlying health condition. The 12-member jury for the trial, which took weeks to select, includes two white men, four white women, three Black men, one Black woman and two mixed race women.

On Saturday, security forces in Myanmar killed at least 90 people, including six children—marking the bloodiest day yet since widespread protests have erupted following the Feb. 1 coup, according to the Wall Street Journal. The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a nonprofit that monitors arrests and fatalities, recorded gunfire and violence in 40 locations across Myanmar over the weekend and noted that the death toll was likely even higher than the 90 fatalities it had confirmed. More than 420 people have been killed and nearly 2,500 are under detention since the country’s military has ensued a violent crackdown on civilian demonstrators.

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced today that the United States is immediately suspending all trade and investment with Myanmar until the country’s elected government is returned, writes Reuters. Thousands in Myanmar have taken to the streets again in a show of opposition to the military leadership following Saturday’s record-setting violence against protesters. Meanwhile, in Thailand, officials are bracing for an influx of refugees from Myanmar as thousands of people have fled to escape a series of airstrikes led by the military regime, reports the Associated Press. The airstrikes mark another escalation in the violent crackdown by Myanmar’s junta since its Feb. 1 takeover.

Iran and China signed a wide-ranging economic and security cooperation agreement that will span the next 25 years, according to the Journal. The deal, which took five years to establish, deepens the strategic relationship between Tehran and Beijing and defies U.S. attempts to isolate Iran economically and diplomatically. While the agreement is not yet public, a draft of the outlined partnership that circulated last year includes Chinese investments in infrastructure projects, military technology transfer and investment in Iran’s oil-and-gas industry.

Two suicide bombers believed to be members of the Islamic State-inspired Jamaah Ansharut Daulah militant group attacked a Catholic church in the Indonestion city of Makassar yesterday, writes France 24. Nineteen people were injured in the attacks; the two suspects were the only fatalities recorded. Indonesia President Joko Widodo condemned the attack as an “act of terrorism” and ensured that the government would ensure that all could worship in the country “without fear.”

Palestinians received 100,000 doses of the Sinopharm coronavirus vaccine donated by China today, reports Reuters. Palestinian health authorities have been in charge of vaccination drives in the Israel-occupied West Bank and Gaza, using vaccines donated by Israel, Russia, the UAE and the global COVAX vaccine-sharing program. Israel, which has one of the most efficient vaccination drives, has come under international criticism for not aiding Palestinians more.

A Russian court in Crimea sentenced a woman to 12 years in prison for state treason in a closed trial, according to Reuters. The woman was found guilty of gathering information about a Russian aviation regiment for Ukrainian military intelligence.

Facebook and Google announced they will invest in two undersea internet cables that will run between California and Southeast Asia, writes the Hill. The goal of the two new cables, Echo and Bifrost, is to boost internet speed and increase access to reliable internet.

ICYMI: This Weekend on Lawfare

Jessica Brandt detailed the threat posed by authoritarian powers to democratic systems globally and proposed measures the Biden administration can take to more adequately confront these competitors.

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Victoria Gallegos is a senior at the University of Mississippi, studying international studies and Spanish. She is an intern at Lawfare.
Tia Sewell is a former associate editor of Lawfare. She studied international relations and economics at Stanford University and is now a master’s student in international security at Sciences Po in Paris.

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